Best-selling journalist Antony Loewenstein trav­els across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, the United States, Britain, Greece, and Australia to witness the reality of disaster capitalism. He discovers how companies such as G4S, Serco, and Halliburton cash in on or­ganized misery in a hidden world of privatized detention centers, militarized private security, aid profiteering, and destructive mining.

Disaster has become big business. Talking to immigrants stuck in limbo in Britain or visiting immigration centers in America, Loewenstein maps the secret networks formed to help cor­porations bleed what profits they can from economic crisis. He debates with Western contractors in Afghanistan, meets the locals in post-earthquake Haiti, and in Greece finds a country at the mercy of vulture profiteers. In Papua New Guinea, he sees a local commu­nity forced to rebel against predatory resource companies and NGOs.

What emerges through Loewenstein’s re­porting is a dark history of multinational corpo­rations that, with the aid of media and political elites, have grown more powerful than national governments. In the twenty-first century, the vulnerable have become the world’s most valu­able commodity. Disaster Capitalism is published by Verso in 2015 and in paperback in January 2017.

Profits_of_doom_cover_350Vulture capitalism has seen the corporation become more powerful than the state, and yet its work is often done by stealth, supported by political and media elites. The result is privatised wars and outsourced detention centres, mining companies pillaging precious land in developing countries and struggling nations invaded by NGOs and the corporate dollar. Best-selling journalist Antony Loewenstein travels to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea and across Australia to witness the reality of this largely hidden world of privatised detention centres, outsourced aid, destructive resource wars and militarized private security. Who is involved and why? Can it be stopped? What are the alternatives in a globalised world? Profits of Doom, published in 2013 and released in an updated edition in 2014, challenges the fundamentals of our unsustainable way of life and the money-making imperatives driving it. It is released in an updated edition in 2014.
forgodssakecover Four Australian thinkers come together to ask and answer the big questions, such as: What is the nature of the universe? Doesn't religion cause most of the conflict in the world? And Where do we find hope?   We are introduced to different belief systems – Judaism, Christianity, Islam – and to the argument that atheism, like organised religion, has its own compelling logic. And we gain insight into the life events that led each author to their current position.   Jane Caro flirted briefly with spiritual belief, inspired by 19th century literary heroines such as Elizabeth Gaskell and the Bronte sisters. Antony Loewenstein is proudly culturally, yet unconventionally, Jewish. Simon Smart is firmly and resolutely a Christian, but one who has had some of his most profound spiritual moments while surfing. Rachel Woodlock grew up in the alternative embrace of Baha'i belief but became entranced by its older parent religion, Islam.   Provocative, informative and passionately argued, For God's Sakepublished in 2013, encourages us to accept religious differences, but to also challenge more vigorously the beliefs that create discord.  
After Zionism, published in 2012 and 2013 with co-editor Ahmed Moor, brings together some of the world s leading thinkers on the Middle East question to dissect the century-long conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians, and to explore possible forms of a one-state solution. Time has run out for the two-state solution because of the unending and permanent Jewish colonization of Palestinian land. Although deep mistrust exists on both sides of the conflict, growing numbers of Palestinians and Israelis, Jews and Arabs are working together to forge a different, unified future. Progressive and realist ideas are at last gaining a foothold in the discourse, while those influenced by the colonial era have been discredited or abandoned. Whatever the political solution may be, Palestinian and Israeli lives are intertwined, enmeshed, irrevocably. This daring and timely collection includes essays by Omar Barghouti, Jonathan Cook, Joseph Dana, Jeremiah Haber, Jeff Halper, Ghada Karmi, Antony Loewenstein, Saree Makdisi, John Mearsheimer, Ahmed Moor, Ilan Pappe, Sara Roy and Phil Weiss.
The 2008 financial crisis opened the door for a bold, progressive social movement. But despite widespread revulsion at economic inequity and political opportunism, after the crash very little has changed. Has the Left failed? What agenda should progressives pursue? And what alternatives do they dare to imagine? Left Turn, published by Melbourne University Press in 2012 and co-edited with Jeff Sparrow, is aimed at the many Australians disillusioned with the political process. It includes passionate and challenging contributions by a diverse range of writers, thinkers and politicians, from Larissa Berendht and Christos Tsiolkas to Guy Rundle and Lee Rhiannon. These essays offer perspectives largely excluded from the mainstream. They offer possibilities for resistance and for a renewed struggle for change.
The Blogging Revolution, released by Melbourne University Press in 2008, is a colourful and revelatory account of bloggers around the globe why live and write under repressive regimes - many of them risking their lives in doing so. Antony Loewenstein's travels take him to private parties in Iran and Egypt, internet cafes in Saudi Arabia and Damascus, to the homes of Cuban dissidents and into newspaper offices in Beijing, where he discovers the ways in which the internet is threatening the ruld of governments. Through first-hand investigations, he reveals the complicity of Western multinationals in assisting the restriction of information in these countries and how bloggers are leading the charge for change. The blogging revolution is a superb examination about the nature of repression in the twenty-first century and the power of brave individuals to overcome it. It was released in an updated edition in 2011, post the Arab revolutions, and an updated Indian print version in 2011.
The best-selling book on the Israel/Palestine conflict, My Israel Question - on Jewish identity, the Zionist lobby, reporting from Palestine and future Middle East directions - was released by Melbourne University Press in 2006. A new, updated edition was released in 2007 (and reprinted again in 2008). The book was short-listed for the 2007 NSW Premier's Literary Award. Another fully updated, third edition was published in 2009. It was released in all e-book formats in 2011. An updated and translated edition was published in Arabic in 2012.

The Age on Google’s move highlights the role of China’s censors

My following article is published today in the Melbourne Age:

About 100 Chinese citizens gathered outside Google’s Beijing office this week to sing the popular tune Grass Mud Horse. They paid their respects to the web giant after it announced the closure of its censored Chinese search engine and redirected users to a Hong Kong-based counterpart. The song signifies resistance to authoritarianism and roughly translates as “Screw Your Mother”.

Police soon broke up the vigil but the event indicated a small but significant shift in public opinion towards opposing internet censorship in the world’s biggest online market (384 million and counting).

There’s hardly revolution in the streets, but Google’s departure has left many Chinese upset and more aware than ever of their country’s repressive policies towards free speech. “The Google China incident”, according to friends there, has caused some normally apolitical users to question why their leaders are isolating them from the world.

Although the majority of Chinese netizens don’t engage in political activities online – preferring to download movies and music and chat with friends – a growing number resent being told what they can’t view by Beijing authorities. An estimated 400,000 people access a virtual private network that allows the ”great firewall” to be circumvented.

But the attitude of Chinese netizens is decidedly mixed (with most users viewing home-grown content with a nationalist bent). During research in China for my book, The Blogging Revolution, I found occasional backing for some kind of government filtering. The constant refrain was to “protect children” from “pornography”, a term that refers to both sexual and political content.

A 2008 collaboration between the Pew Internet and American Life Project and a group of respected Chinese academics found that nearly 85 per cent of those polled said they wanted the government to control the web.

Google’s decision has the potential to unleash forces in the communist nation that authorities have spent years trying to suppress. Beijing has cleverly allowed a growing amount of online venting towards corrupt officials and wayward pollution, but there are strict limits to debate.

Although the People’s Daily accused Google of playing God and forcing its “values” on the Chinese people, a democratic alternative to Beijing’s web-based dictatorship will be viable only if developed by the Chinese people. Google can simply provide a spark.

It’s certainly far too early to determine the real reason behind Google’s move. A sudden concern for human rights and freedom of speech is possible, but Foreign Policy’s Evgeny Morozov suggests a more cynical strategy: “Google was in need of some positive PR to correct its worsening image (especially in Europe, where concerns about privacy are mounting on a daily basis). is the goat that would be sacrificed, for it will generate most positive headlines and may not result in devastating losses to Google’s business ( holds roughly 30 per cent of the Chinese market).”

He may be right, though I suspect Google’s decision was also due to its largely stagnant commercial growth against far savvier and more ethically versatile competitors. Like any multinational business, human rights concerns are rarely a leading consideration. This is despite Google co-founder Sergey Brin urging the Obama administration this week to put a “high priority” on fighting Chinese web blocking.

One undoubted benefit of Google’s self-immolation in China will be a closer appraisal of internet censorship across the globe. In another case, in Thailand, YouTube has agreed to block videos insulting the revered king.

Recently, Google objected to the Australian government’s request that they ”voluntarily” censor YouTube videos in accordance with refused classification rules. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy curiously promoted Google’s censorship in China and Thailand as reasons why the company should apply the same rules here. It’s hard to fathom how using these examples fits with Australia’s democratic tradition.

Google’s chief legal officer, David Drummond, said this week that, over time, “it is good for our business to push for free expression”. He clearly wasn’t just talking about China.

Western-style democracy is not wanted in China, but Google’s stunning move guarantees a robust online debate about what netizens aren’t being told.

Antony Loewenstein’s book The Blogging Revolution is published by Melbourne University Press.

no comments – be the first ↪